For the Love of Learning – Learning Communities – Epi#19

For the Love of Learning Episode #19

Show Title:

Learning Communities

Monday June 8, 2015  8:00 pm – 10:00 pm EST
Tuesday June 9, 2015 1:00 am – 3:00 am BST

Special Guests:

Lori McKee Walker
Andre Broetz
Penny Cullen


A learning community is a group of people who share common academic goals and attitudes, who meet to collaborate on a common goal such as classwork, projects and even immersive learning experiences.  Such communities have become the template for a cohort-based, interdisciplinary approach to higher education, professional organizations and project based learning collectives. The benefits of learning communities are numerous. The primary distinction is experienced through collaboration influencing the overall learning experience.

Many learning communities includes intentional social learning, immersive experiences, teamwork, collaboration,  leadership and opportunities for deep interpersonal development in addition to the academic focus.

Traditional learning communities have been experimented with throughout the world. Wikipedia says this about them:

“Community psychologists state that there are four key factors that defined a sense of community: “(1) membership, (2) influence, (3) fulfillment of individuals needs and (4) shared events and emotional connections. So, the participants of a learning community must feel some sense of loyalty and belonging to the group (membership) that drive their desire to keep working and helping others, also the things that the participant do in must affect what happened in the community, that means, an active and not just a reactive performance (influence). Besides a learning community must give the chance to the participants to meet particular needs (fulfillment) by expressing personal opinions, asking for help or specific information and share stories of events with particular issue included (emotional connections) emotional experiences.”

Tonight we explore the many forms and applications of learning communities with an incredible panel.

Bios of Tonight’s Guests:

Lori McKee Walker

Lori_walkerLori Walker is passionate about the idea that learning is a natural process, and is an inherently fun process. It feels good to learn, so why are so many students bored and disengaged?

Lori is the founder and Executive Director of Village Home, where learners have fun learning Village Home is a learning community that is built on choice and
autonomy for learners. Learners are all unique, with unique interests and learning styles. The Village Home model allows learners to pursue their interests as an individual while also participating in a family friendly, community learning

Prior to founding Village Home in 2002, Lori was the Director of Training and
Curriculum at Learning Forum, based in California, where she designed academic and life skills curriculum, trained teachers, and facilitated programs for teens. She also served as a facilitator herself at programs in the United States and abroad.

Lori has over 12 years of experience teaching and training adults and children in a variety of subjects, from psychology to accounting for REITs. Lori is an engaging instructor who presents material in a way that is accessible and entertaining.

She earned BA degrees, graduating summa cum laude with distinction and honors, from SMU in Business Management and Psychology, with an emphasis in child development.

Lori’s two daughters provided the initial inspiration for Village Home, and her job as mom is the best job she will ever have. She lives in Beaverton with her daughters, husband, and assortment of four legged animals.

Andre Broetz

andreAndré Brötz is a mechanical engineer turned teacher/learning guide. In his youth he spent 13 years living outside of his home country Germany. His childhood as a third culture kid in Houston, Moscow and Abu Dhabi presented him with plenty of valuable experiences. He returned to Germany to study mechanical engineering at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Andre completed his Bachelor’s degree, but felt unsuited for the world of technology. After some serious traveling and a few semesters of a Master’s degree at the TU Berlin he slid into a new career path. He started teaching math, physics and English regularly and grew to love the intricacies of guiding someone’s learning process. His experiences teaching in Germany, Turkey and Malaysia for the last 6 years led him to open up his own learning center. “Die Lernwerkstatt” (the learning workshop) opened in March 2015 in Berlin and is now available as a space where learning is a collaborative, creative and self-determined process.

Penny Cullen

pennyPenny feels so lucky to live with a very supportive man and two shorter people who have so far been her greatest life long mentors Grace (7) and Sunae (4). Penny  lives on a little piece of land with a huge vegetable, garden 12 chickens and a beautiful view of Mount Taranaki in the province of Taranaki. Her village of Okato is tiny (though has the best coffee shop around) so for Penny to create community she knew it wouldn’t always necessarily be with people on my doorstep.

Penny found SelfDesign 5 years ago and after having been a teacher, worked in Montessori and Steiner she felt SelfDesign was an even more open ended form of learning and living that would be a perfect fit for her family.

As SelfDesign is just that it provides tools and processes to author our own lives. SelfDesign is a global network and the community participants meet weekly on online to discuss what is coming up for the adults and children alike and share and support one another.

Home Learning for Penny is very much using natural resources around her including the beaches, national parks and the local libraries and museums. Penny is grateful to have fantastic resources, experiences and opportunities in her nearest town, New Plymouth. Penny also has an incredibly motivated natural learning co-op to meet her family’s social needs. SelfDesign provides systems for Penny and her family in support of their individual personal growth journeys intersecting into living and growing as a family.  Penny feels that SelfDesign allows each of her family members to expand their inner worlds and creates a healthy environment to grow learn and grow together.





Lainie Liberti

As always, you can find out more about your host, Lainie Liberti at her website and the alternative education & world schooling project she runs with her teenage son at: You can also connect with her on twitter @ilainie & facebook.

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